Mycobacterial Hsp65 antigen upregulates the cellular immune response of healthy individuals compared to tuberculosis patients.
Previously we showed that 65-kDa Mycobacterium leprae heat shock protein (Hsp65) is a target for the development of a tuberculosis vaccine. Here we evaluated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from healthy individuals or tuberculosis patients stimulated with two forms of Hsp65 antigen, recombinant DNA that encodes Hsp65 (DNA-HSP65) or recombinant Hsp65 protein (rHsp65) in attempting to mimic a prophylactic or therapeutic study in vitro, respectively. Proliferation and cytokine-producing CD4(+) or CD8(+) cell were assessed by flow cytometry. The CD4(+) cell proliferation from healthy individuals was stimulated by DNA-HSP65 and rHsp65, while CD8(+) cell proliferation from healthy individuals or tuberculosis patients was stimulated by rHSP65. DNA-HSP65 did not improve the frequency of IFN-gamma(+) cells from healthy individuals or tuberculosis patients. Furthermore, we found an increase in the frequency of IL-10-producing cells in both groups. These findings show that Hsp65 antigen activates human lymphocytes and plays an immune regulatory role that should be addressed as an additional antigen for the development of antigen-combined therapies.